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Should Islamic Pakistan ban "Hindu" Basant festival

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    Should Islamic Pakistan ban "Hindu" Basant festival

    The Basant festival celebrated mainly in Lahore is of Hindu origin. It is celebrated with the name Makar Sankranti in Gujarat and Maharashtra and many other states and Pongal in Tamil Nadu. Being an Islamic republic should Pakistan ban "Hindu"festival Basant.

    Ban the basant festival
    /The News
    Prof Dr Anis Ahmad

    Festivals and celebrations, at a popular level, reflect the culture and values of a people. The Chinese New Year, Christmas celebrations and Holi represent concept of space and time in three distinct religious and cultural traditions. At an academic level, festivals and celebrations, initiation rites, marriage and burial ceremonies and seasonal festivals are studied, compared and analysed by sociologists, cultural anthropologists and scientists of religion from their respective vantage points. For some these festivals, ceremonies and celebrations speak for opening up of soul, spiritual elevation, interaction between the part and the whole. For others they provide ground for re-entering the mythical sacred time and space. These may also provide people with a sense of belonging, identity and self-understanding.

    Festivals also help in communication of the culture of values of a people. The Islamic values of shukr (thankfulness), infaq (contributing to the welfare of others) and glorification of the Creator of man and the universe, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, through takbirat are, for example, are reflected in the festival of Eidul Fitr.

    During the past ten years, some aristocrats of Lahore have introduced basant as a local popular festival. Without going into the historical roots of this celebration, which essentially is alien to our own culture and traditions, we want to understand the logic, justification, and philosophy of this alien festival as seen by its advocates.

    One 'benefit' of observing basant, according to its proponents, is that it helps in diluting pride in our own Islamic cultural tradition. It brings us closer to the Hindu mainstream culture of Hindutva. The use of sacred yellow colour in basant reminds us of the Indian way of celebrating festivals. We confirm, when we partake in it, we are Indians who also happen to be Muslims. This precisely was the argument of the Indian National Congress against the creation of Pakistan. They claimed that the Muslims were part of a mainstream Indian Hindutva culture though Islam was their "religion". Muslims consequently, according to one-nation theory, were expected to pray in their mosques like the Christians go to their Churches, however, after having prayed they were expected to share in a common culture.

    The great contribution of the Father of the Nation was his firm stand on separate cultural identity of the Muslims. It was their difference in culture, values, vision of life, concept of space and time, art and literature which made them two nations.

    The second 'advantage', we are told by the champions of basant, is that we can help and offer economic benefits to the Hindutva-secularist rulers, across the borders, by importing (often illegally) the material used for making the thread used in flying kites. The Indian and secular lobbyists have a strong argument when they say we are anyhow a consumer economy and we import even products made by some Jewish multinationals, what is wrong in importing material for flying kites from a Hindutva neighbour? This logic is interesting, it simply means if a person has an infection in chest there is nothing wrong in going ahead and inviting infection in foot or eyes. Perhaps positive and healthy thinking is tabooed in our country! We do not mind wasting millions of rupees on unproductive activities like fireworks or flying kites even when it gives all economic benefits, in cash, to people across the border.

    The third 'advantage' of observing basant, the pleaders of basant tell us, is that while advertisements on TV and print media have not brought much success in the so-called "population welfare" programmes, at least during basant festival we succeed in getting a few hundred youth and adults killed. If these boys and adults were allowed to survive they would be a 'burden' on our country's economy and on their families. During basant they die when their strings get entangled with electric poles. They also die when some of them fall down from roofs while absorbed in the sacred and holy ritual of kite-flying. Some of them also die when they run madly to capture kites and are overrun by rash drivers. All these accidents reduce the size of our population and thus help in achieving, in a sense of national agenda of "population control".

    The fourth big 'advantage' is that it helps in creating conditions where men and women can intermingle indiscriminately while flying kites, by shouting "Bo Kataa" and by singing suggestive songs, provoking sexual emotions among youth, and ultimately promoting a promiscuous society. The coverage of basant on TV, newspapers and radio, and the songs aired on TV and radio, as well as photographs published in newspapers, during the last few years, confirm this assertion. We know when a spade is called a spade it is bound to annoy some people. Nevertheless, truth deserves to be shared with others.

    The fifth 'advantage' of observing basant festival is that we can proudly tell people in our neighbouring country, and in the so-called developed world, that our boys and girls are as much "advanced", "modern" and bent on hedonism as they are. That we are good imitators in our dress style, in our ways of singing and in adopting pop music, with gestures and postures of alien cultural traditions is already an established fact. With observance of basant, we can easily make people of the world believe that we are just like them: a pleasure-seeking nation.

    If some crazy people in Times Squares, New York, or downtown Sydney, can for one whole night dance, drink, shout, and mix, we too at least have a festival of basant in which we can compete with them, and show our talent of imitating ways of entertainment of others. More importantly, this will also take care of the misconceptions about us that we are very conservative, religious-minded, tradition-bound and perhaps "fundamentalist" people.

    Such festivals can only be endorsed and supported by secular-minded liberal persons, who may believe in being "religious" once a week when they go for "salatul jumu`ah", they may also be "religious" when they make their five times daily prayer.

    But like followers of other religions they draw a line between their religious and secular activities. To them so long as they pray once a week or five times a day, involvement in drug-culture, tax-evasion, misuse of political offices, oppression against women belongs to "secular" or worldly material life. It does not bother them to participate in basant and next day listen to a competition of Husn-e-Qir`at.

    Frankly speaking, basant as such is not so significant an event as to call for a serious discourse. The majority of people in Pakistan have, during past several years, shown their disapproval of it. Nevertheless, a small minority of people, who search for their cultural roots in Hindutva-secular society, and who do not mind offering economic benefits and favours to a neighbour country, think they can make it a popular festival. Leaving aside its cultural, ideological and alien aspects, its economic cost alone provides enough justification to disallow it in Pakistan.

    I didn't realise hindus invented kite-flying

    If hindus eat food maybe we should stop that as well.

    What a load of...nonsense


      We have no right to ban cultural or religous celebrations of anyone. If we think that an "impure" practice will infiltrate our "pure" culture, then we are on a completely wrong track logically.

      As far as economic costs go,

      We can probably ban every single activity because we are a debt ridden country.

      there goes my b'day party :>
      The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


        I totally agree with Mr. Xtreme. Not only is it a load of nonsense, it is very disturbing to see this kind of thinking process being exhibited by a Professor. His views are not very Professorial to say the least. His account of facts is also totally untrue. Lahore is self-sufficient in terms of raw material that is needed to celebrate Basant. Even if it means importing some materials from India still is no justification for this old age festival to be stopped. Tomorrow he will say lets stop electing our representative as this is very English form of governing. Professor, shut up and teach.


          Kite flying is not only hindu. Its much practised sport in other countries like Japan, Thailand, Holland and some other places too.

          Fata Morgana


            I have reconsidered. we should ban kites. We should also strive to ban kites worldwide.
            kites = evil
            The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


              Fraudia....make up you mind..kites or no kites???


                hmmmmm no paper kites, only vinyl kites
                The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


                  definitely... they should also put a ban on various other hindu functions of mehndi, their vulgar movies.

                  We should also switch to Arabic as our national language. Its the language of Quran. We made a big mistake by not implementing it in 47 and had to pay for it in 71.

                  Future holds a key role for Pakistan in the muslim world and we should be prepared for it.


                    There is nothing hindu about basant. Its a simple kite flying festival that we borrowed from india, but it dosnt have hint of hinduism in it. Its not like before lofting a kite, the flyer sits and prays to bhagwan. I agree with all the responses. Its ridiculous.